Each Has His Own Gift from God
by Jacob Hudgins
“I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another”(1 Cor 7:7).
Paul is answering questions about marriage in this text and gives his advice that he thinks it is best to remain single. Yet he acknowledges that not everyone is capable of this and there is nothing wrong with marriage. Paul considers his singleness a gift. “But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another”(1 Cor 7:7). This prompts two questions.
1) What are my gifts?
If we all have gifts from God, then I need to be certain that I know what mine are. The New Testament describes some gifts that are charismatic—“first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues”(1 Cor 12:28)—but these seem to have ceased in the special form described here. Some of the lists involve gifts that continue while others do not: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers”(Eph 4:11). Others seem to combine the gifts with characteristics that obviously persist: “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness”(Rom 12:6-8). Peter tells us to use our gifts to serve others, including hospitality, speaking, and serving (1 Pet 4:9-11).
The point of all this discussion is that the New Testament has an extremely broad definition of gifts. Paul is gifted because he can remain single and control himself. Some are gifted with being able to encourage. Some can teach. Some are wealthy and can give. Some are leaders. Some work behind the scenes. Some have a great way with people. Some have vision and wisdom. Some have great energy. Some are hard workers. Some never seem to get angry. Some are particularly thoughtful. The list could go on and on. I must not think that I am not gifted if I do not have a major vocal role in a worship service. “Each has his own gift from God.”
2) What are the positives of my situation?
Often singleness is painted as an undesirable state. Paul sees it as good. It is helpful in “the present distress”(1 Cor 7:26). It gives him focus: “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife”(1 Cor 7:32-33). Paul views the single life as “the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him”(1 Cor 7:17). Without criticizing married people, Paul is happy with his gift and circumstance.
There is value in asking what is good about our situation. Someone else’s gifts do not diminish mine, nor do mine threaten theirs. Instead of feeling inadequate because I am not a people-person, I can see the good in being careful, contemplative, and quiet. Instead of regretting that I don’t have the money or status someone else does, I can use my skills to be an encourager. What can I do? “Each has his own gift from God.”
Paul’s perspective is a game-changer. What are your gifts? What can you do?